Aquarists are always looking for the best reef sump to make their aquariums thrive. The most important thing to consider when choosing a sump is how easy it will be in maintaining your system. As well as how often you will need maintenance, if at all.
However, there are many different types of sumps that work with various setups, but I’ll outline some of them with the pros and cons of each so you can find the one that works best for you! So, let’s begin..
What is a reef sump?
Reef sumps are tanks that sit underneath your main tank which contain the filtration systems. Also, you can place many other useful and spacing-taking equipment such as skimmer, heaters, etc. into the sump. It makes the aquarium visually appealing by hiding important but cumbersome aquarium tools.
Sumps come in many different shapes, sizes, and layouts. Generally, they contain at least one pump (the main sump pump) with sponge filters, filter socks, and Purigen (or similar product) used for filtration. A refugium can be added for further biological filtration which will house anaerobic denitrifying bacteria.
Top 6 Best Reef Sump reviews
Modern-day aquarium owners don’t forget to install a sump system underneath their aquarium as it comes with numerous advantages. Nonetheless, you have to make sure that your aquarium is connected with the best reef sump on the market so that you and your aquarium’s inhabitants don’t have to go through any issues in the long run.
Without further ado, let’s have a look at some high-quality reef sumps which are currently leading the marketplace.
1. Pro Clear reef sump Red Flex 4 in 1
Sumps are the best friend of aquarists as it makes the aquarium maintenance 10 times easier and having a stunning reef sump from Red Flex takes your aquarium maintenance to a different height.
This super handy sump comes with all the essential features that any aquarium owner would love to have on their sump. The first thing you will spot from the sump is its heavy-duty build quality which helps the sump to keep performing for many years.
To maintain optimal water quality, Pro clear has fashioned the 4 in 1 sump with 4 types of filtration methods including biological, physical, mechanical, and chemical. Also, they have provided high-quality 200-micron socks to ensure proper filtration every time water passes through them.
Additionally, this sump has an aesthetically pleasing white and red acrylic design. Apart from having the overflow panel, this sump comes with wire holders, dosing lines, and quick connects to allow an effortless setup.
With a big sump pump placing area, a big blue sponge, and a flexible water flow gate (6 to 9 inches), you will really enjoy the benefits it’s gonna offer to your tank. You can choose from 4 different sized sumps ranging from 100 gallons to 400 gallons according to your requirements.
2. Eshopps AEO14005 Rs-100 Reef Sump
There are a lot of sumps on the market that have been manufactured with aesthetics as the only concern. However, this is not just another useless design made to look cool or cute.
Yes, Eshopps’s Reef Sump is crafted for providing maintenance ease, and because of its top-notch functionality, it performs at a high level without objections from you or your aquarium inhabitants.
The quiet filtration system reduces noise levels significantly while doing filtering tasks efficiently. The finest thing about the sump is that it ensures flawless water flow and filtration so that your aquarium’s water remains clean and healthy.
Not only does the sump has adequate space to hold all the necessary equipment including a big pump, protein skimmer, heater, etc., but it also is durable enough to provide long-lasting service. Due to its simple structure, young or new aquarium owners will find it pretty straightforward to deal with.
Moreover, its thick foam will keep bubbles and detritus from returning to your display tank. The large 7-inch filter sock will ensure longer use with less maintenance. The large safety overflow design will also come in handy in case of a filter sock overflow issue.
3. Eshopps RS-75 Reef Sump
Eshopps is a renowned name in the aquarium industry and that’s why I’ve picked another Esshopps sump in the list of best reef sump reviews. Well, this Eshopps Reef Sumps is an affordable yet practical sump that works to maintain the cleanliness of your aquarium
This Eshopps Reef Sump 75 complies with the demands of a 75-gallon aquarium tank and has sufficient areas to accommodate all necessary filtration equipment while being quick and easy to assemble.
Furthermore, its innovative design allows optimal convenience in aquarium maintenance. Plus, it comes with a pre-filter sponge that catches air bubbles from getting into your main tank, which will aid in the sustainability of the whole system.
With dimensions 18″ x 10″ x 16″ and 300-micron sock, this product will offer a life-long performance. The open-top design makes it easy for you to interact with equipment while providing a durable structure for protection against any unwanted damage.
However, the sump has a relatively small protein skimmer section that may cause issues while you also try to add a heater in that section. Apart from that, this reef sump will surely give you a lot of ease.
4. Fiji Cube Refugium Sump Baffle Kit
The thrill of having handmade equipment excites people. It’s like Legos, the real fun is building it all by your own hands. Well, Fiji Cube’s kit can convert a 20 Gallon Long aquarium into a sensational sump, and you can do it entirely by your hands.
With this kit, you get 2 integrated sock holders that can fit 4″ filter bags. You can place the holders with the glue they provide.
The filter socks will also have silencers that lower the entire noise that’ll get generated in the sump. The socks are 200 microns in size.
There’s a fixed baffle at the first slot and on the second slot, there’s the adjustable baffle. You’ll be able to change the water height between 4.5″ to 8″ to meet your protein skimmer height requirements. At the third baffle slot, there’s a bubble trap.
The acrylic casts are well made and pretty solid. Aesthetics are an important part of any product made in the current decade, and this Fiji cube doesn’t fall short there. Just like the actual Fiji islands, these products are vibrant and stunning.
If I had to pick one matter I dislike, it’d be that the glass casing isn’t part of the kit, it’s only for display. But a lot of people won’t notice it.
5. Bubblefin Sump Refugium DIY Kit
Here’s another DIY kit for building reef sumps, think of it as the budget version of the previous one. This DIY kit from Bubblefin has the right amount of basic tools for you to get started. If you’re a beginner in this line of interest, this might be the perfect one to start with.
This kit is great for 10 gallon or 20-gallon tanks. The measurements are as follows: 20″L x10″W x12″H for 10 gallon tanks, 30″L x12″W x12″ H, and 24″L x12″W x 16″H for 20 gallon long and tall respectively.
The acrylics are solid and look really nice. It doesn’t take too long to set them up either, just glue them and they’ll fall in place smoothly. Keep in mind that you gotta buy the glue separately. They’ll divide the tank at the appropriate chamber height for most skimmers.
You’ll get a total of 3 acrylic sheets, each of them are 11.8″/300mm wide. And under low light, they’ll glow green, but when exposed to a strong source of light, they’ll change to yellow.
6. IceCap 36 Reef Sump
In IceCap’s eyes, traditional sumps weren’t enough. They wanted to improvise on the existing ideas and come up with something more meaningful. Nowadays, aesthetics are extremely important for a reef sump, that’s why they tweaked their designs and came up with the IceCap 36- which looks brilliant.
It has a capacity of 190 gallons, although it can go up to 220 gallons if adequate conditions exist.
The design is pretty simple. There is sufficient space for your skimmer, as well as the return pump. The dimension of its skimmer chamber is 17.7″L x 15.2″W, and for the Return Chamber, it’s 8.7″L x 9.8″W. You’ll also notice a 7″ filter sock holder.
This entire sump is made out of acrylic that is lightweight but heavy-duty. Its micron bag consists of a spill-over design for smoother operation. Plus, it also consists of a compartment lid in order to make the entire operation quiet.
The top rim gives the sump plenty of support to withstand the stress inside the reef. It has an adjustable water height of 5-9″ that you can change by moving the baffle. In total, there are 3 probe holes of 15mm to make sure the probe isn’t surrounded with stagnant water.
Best Reef Sump Buying Guide
You know what would be the saddest thing? It’d be when you go and buy a nice sump for your reef and then it turns out it doesn’t fit your type of tank or can’t function properly. The disappointment hits you hard.
And to avoid that, I’m here to give you some solid suggestions that will help you make sure you get the best reef sump for your taste. Let’s get started:
Please keep this in mind, whenever a sump comes into question, the flow rate is a necessary factor. The flow rate should coincide with the volume of water present.
In a reef tank setup, you have a limited area; if I say more specifically, your cabinet size dictates how big of a sump you can get. So, remember to get one that fits properly.
If your reef sump has a prefilter, it’ll save a lot of your time. Basically, it’ll prevent debris from accumulating inside your sump, so you won’t have to spend a lot of time during maintenance.
It is important for you to find out the difference in temperature between the sump and the water. Because it might influence the water temperature.
It sure does cause trouble for the reef tank when fluctuation of water temperature causes major changes inside the water body and the organisms living there.
This is why you need to be extra vigilant and find out if the running temperature would interfere with the tank or not.
I don’t know about you but I’ll definitely flip if I had to replace my sump too often. Ideally, you want a long-lasting reef sump that can survive throughout the life of your reef tank, or at least come close. That’s why try to get one made out of durable materials.
You can try acrylic, they’re lighter and you don’t have to worry about scratches. Also, they’re less likely to shatter.
And if you can afford PVC, that’s even better, it’s more durable, but the cost isn’t up everyone’s alley.
By the way, a lot of people are making custom aquarium sumps that have a mix of both acrylic and PVC to get the best out of both.
A lot of sumps are actually loud, and it can cause a nuisance for your inhabitants. An aquarium is a place of peace, the less noise there is, the better for you.
Now, this isn’t a must-have for your sump, but if you can get one that comes with add-ons like a probe holder and color-coded dosing lines, it’ll surely be useful for you somewhere along the way.
I wouldn’t be mentioning this if I was writing for another topic, but if you’re likely to spend a lot for your tank to look visually pleasing, which I believe you would, then definitely the looks of the sump matters. Try to go for one that doesn’t break the vibe you’re going for. Fortunately, there are a lot of cool-looking designs.
Benefits of a sump for a reef tank
Having a sump for a reef tank has a lot of advantages. For starters, it gives the owner a lot of new things to try out, giving them the thrill of exploring new ideas and systems. But that’s just the start, there are other effective perks to it. I’ll elaborate on them below:
1. Lets you add refugium in a tank
The addition of a refugium to your reef tank is not just for aesthetics. I’ve found that it’s an essential component in the overall system. Personally, I think having a good number of chaeto is a great benefit for a reef tank as it’ll convert the nitrates and phosphates.
With refugiums providing benefits like buffering PH levels and providing food for the fish fry, it is easy enough to maintain day-night fluctuations in certain areas while keeping other areas clear by following appropriate lighting guidelines with regard to both schedules as well as the distance between them!
You can also use refugium to let a sensitive fish adjust before adding them to the main tank.
Read Next: Best refugium lights
2. Brings stability
The key to success for a saltwater tank is stability. You need constant, slow changes in order to keep the water chemistry and temperature stable enough so that life can flourish within it – even if you’re not doing much maintenance work on your system!
I’ve seen some amazing Reef tanks where owners took very little care of them yet their fish were healthy and happy while living off whatever food scraps or coral sand they had available.
A sump acts like a bucket that holds extra fish tank waters; without one these tanks would run dry much quicker due to their small size, basically increasing the water volume.
When you have more liquid in your setup, even if it’s unintentional or an accident that causes this change- anything added will be less prominent than before, as a result, the changes will be slower, meaning better stability for the tank.
3. Relocates equipment
Your aquarium is your very own personal masterpiece. Having equipment lying here and there would hamper your work of artistic brilliance. The solution to it lies with sumps.
A sump is a great way to take equipment out of your aquarium and relocate it. It’s also where you would install any skimmers, pumps, media reactors, or anything else that may be too large for the display tank. It is a perfect place to store all your Reef tank equipment. It will keep it dry, out of sight, and tangle-free!
This is a great way to keep wires organized and away from other equipment, as well. When grouped together all your wiring will be easier for you to see what goes where – it also helps with clutter in any room!
4. Easy maintenance
Maintenance is much easier with a sump. By keeping most life-support equipment in one place, it becomes easy to inspect and remove that which needs cleaning or maintenance as well as being able to examine all aspects from above without bending down
In addition, there is no need to get on your hands when servicing components. This means avoiding backaches at least, because you don’t have to get up and down repeatedly!
You can also use a sump to conduct water changes. Typically, we don’t want to obstruct the flow of the display tank. So, if you’re changing the water through a sump, that eliminates the need to tamper with the display tank’s water flow.
5. Better aeration
The natural way that a sump helps with the surrounding area’s aeration is by providing an outlet for aquariums, which can be drained partially or completely before being mixed together in one location where it transfers back out into your display tank via agitation methods such as bubbles rising up from below surface level due to either gasping breaths of air alone-depending upon what you prefer!
One more thing, a reef pump is an amazing place for housing a protein skimmer, and skimmers boost oxygen levels in a tank.
6. Reduces noise
Having a sump in your tank reduces sound by a large margin. This will help you keep an ambient background and let you go for the tranquility that a lot of aquarists desire.
If you’ll have fish in your tanks, this will be really useful.
7. Helps with safe dosing
Dosing supplements and topping off a reef tank go hand in hand. Aquarists often use the slow drip method of introducing lime water into their tanks, but other methods include an auto-dose or metering pump for quick water changes at more convenient times from your schedule!
How does an aquarium sump work?
The sump is a vital component of any aquarium. It takes in water from the top and bottom to equalize levels, then pumps it back out into the plumbing system so everything stays stable throughout its life cycle!
Water drains from your display tank through an overflow section and into a sump, where it passes through filtration before being pumped back up again to keep level constant with circulation never stopping for return pump operating as well (essential when setting up new tanks).
The return pump is the key player here. This is what keeps the circulation going at all times – even when you’re not looking or need something else done instead!
The aquarium/sump system works in much the same way as your bathroom sink’s overflow hole. The water goes through this vessel when it gets too high, filters and cleans itself before being pumped back up.
It’ll keep being a constant cycle. Most aquarists tend to set a goal of pumping 15 times the volume of the tank for circulation.
Some tanks have just one hole and drain, whereas others may have two holes (one for drainage and another to return excess liquid), three holes ( one for drainage, and the other for return just like before with the last one being emergency), another three-hole variety is one drainage and two emergency holes).
There are also ones with four holes (drainage, return, emergency, and electrical cables).
Every water tank is different, but they all have one thing in common: the location of their drains.
The position of these outlets will always determine how high you need your tank’s content to be so it doesn’t go down because of evaporation during changes in temperature or pressure!
Different parts of a complete reef sump
We may have seen reef sumps placed underneath various saltwater aquarium setups. These sumps come in different shapes and forms. However, a standard reef sump includes some common sections that provide a handful of benefits to the aquarist.
Let’s discuss these sections and their roles so that you can understand them better and make your decision according to your tank’s demand while buying one.
Basically, A standard reef sump contains 5 parts. They are-
- Drain section
- Mechanical filter section
- Skimmer section
- Bubble trap section
- Return section
Now, let’s know more about these parts and which part does what to make the whole system work flawlessly.
1. Drain section
This part is the most basic section of a reef sump as this chamber deals with the water directly coming from the aquarium above. Here you may find one drain pipe or multiple drain pipes depending on the overflow sections. Though it is an independent area, in some settings, this chamber works collectively with the mechanical filter section.
Apart from welcome water, this area helps prevent water splashing and salt buildups in reef tanks.
2. Mechanical filter chamber
This part is very crucial as this section plays a significant role in purifying the water. Yes, here the water comes in contact with the mechanical filters of your tank. The filter equipment includes shocks (crafted with filter materials), mats, sponge pads, and an automatic filter roller.
The mechanical filter section’s main job is to filter the large particulate matter floating in the water before it can break down and pollute.
3. Skimmer section
In reef or saltwater tanks’ sump, this chamber is an important addition. Because a protein skimmer is placed here to catch all the small dirt and unwanted particles that the mechanical section can’t filter. The job of a protein skimmer is to wipe out all the dissolved organic waste from the water.
You need to make sure that the protein skimmer has a preset water height to work smoothly. Some sumps come with an adjustable water height maintaining system. However, if there’s no such setting, you can tackle the problem by placing the skimmer on a stand.
4. Bubble trapping section
After the water is filtered by the protein skimmer, you will notice a lot of bubbles in the water. These unnatural bubbles are not good for a reef tank and that’s why you have to keep it as low as possible.
So, you can easily guess the role of the bubble trap chamber by its name. Yes, it traps those microscopic bubbles so that it doesn’t distress your tank’s fish and make your tank look ugly.
The bubble trap chamber consists of 3 baffles to stop bubbles from going to the main tank.
5. Return section
This is the last part of the reef sump and this section is responsible for sending the water back into the tank after getting treatment from the mechanical filter and protein skimmer section. In other words, this section completes the sump cycle.
In this part, the sump pump is placed to do the water sending task smoothly. In the process, lots of water evaporate. So, you have to keep a close eye to make sure that the pump doesn’t run dry. Some aquarists install an automatic top-off system to deal with the evaporation issue.
How to set up a reef sump?
Reef sump is becoming an important part of an aquarium system as it makes the aquarium maintenance hassle-free and increases the beauty of your aquarium. You can either install a custom-made sump or buy a pre-built sump for your aquarium. Here, I’m going to talk about the proper installation process of a reef sump.
Step 1: Install the overflow system
This is the place from where the water of the tank goes to the sump. You have to drill holes in the side of the aquarium to place the overflow box. You can use a diamond-coated drill bit to make these holes within a few minutes. Once you made the holes, you should install the overflow box and seal the place properly so that no water leakage takes place.
In this step, you should also drill the hole to attach the return pipe and do the plumbing too. Make sure that you connect a check valve here so that water can flow in one direction.
Step 2: Set up the Sump
Now, it’s time to assemble the sump and place everything in the appropriate place so that the sump works flawlessly. First, you have to secure the inlet pipe into their place using the bulkheads. After that, you have to place the filter socks carefully.
If your sump comes with color-coded dosing lines, you have to insert them properly using the male-female connectors which are supplied with the pack. Finally, place the sump pump and attach the outgoing pump pipe to the return pipe of the aquarium.
Step 3: Check and start the water flow
Now, make sure you have secured all connections properly again. Before putting everything back into the aquarium or filling the aquarium with all necessary, you should fill the aquarium with water and inspect whether the whole water cycle is running smoothly or not.
If everything works fine, then you have installed the sump successfully. Though every brand’s sump may not offer the same setup, the steps I’ve discussed above are the basics. However, you should also read the instruction manual of your purchased sump to make sure that you don’t miss anything.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I put a fish in my reef sump?
No, it won’t be safe and wise to keep fish in a sump. Fish will face complexity in thriving inside a sump as there are plenty of equipment
How big should a sump be for an aquarium?
Well, bigger size sumps are always a better option but your sump should hold at least 20% water of your display tank. I mean, if you have a 100-gallon aquarium, you should add a sump that could hold around 20 gallons.
How full should my aquarium sump be?
The sump holds a lot of water but it’s not recommended to load it full with water. Instead, keeping the sump’s three-quarters full would be a good practice.
How to drill an aquarium glass safely?
Though it seems a difficult task to drill an aquarium, you can securely drill your tank using the diamond hole saw drill bits with your drill machine.
Can a reef sump overflow?
Yes, if there is an issue with the water flow management, or if the sump pump fails to work properly, your reef sump will overflow due to the water coming at it from the display tank.
The best reef sump is one that provides good filtration and easy maintenance. A strong pump with a large flow rate will help to keep water clear and oxygenated – which in turn keeps fish happy and healthy.
The right amount of live rock should be included for optimum biological nitrification activity as well as providing an aesthetically pleasing look.
I hope that I made it easier for you to decide which reef sump to get.